Small Business Owners need to have an airtight focus on big picture tasks in order to keep the flow of business moving, adequately manage their team and grow into a successful enterprise. How, then, should small business owners approach the challenge of keeping things organized while wearing lots of hats? From mind maps to delegation, creating systems and planning the day ahead, there are all sorts of strategies to stay organized. Let's take a look at five organizational tips that will help small businesses increase productivity, boost company value, and focus on the most important parts of running a business.
1. Create a Mind Map
Managers need a way to break down strategic goals into tasks and tactics that can be implemented immediately. Mind maps are the solution here. In short, mind maps are best described as visual organizational tools that generate an overview of a project while also serving the purpose of interconnecting different aspects of the company. Mind maps kick-start creativity, making it easier to come up with ideas, evaluate options and ultimately make the best possible decision. Ideally, small business owners will take the ideas produced by mind maps and convert them into a list of easily-understood tasks. Properly structure the big picture ideas stemming from your mind maps through a visualization like a project board and it will prove that much easier to chip away at long term goals.
2. Do not be Afraid to Delegate
Part of being a manager is knowing when and how to delegate. After all, most small business owners have at least a couple employees or freelancers. There is no sense in attempting to do all the work on your own when you can delegate menial responsibilities to your team members as appropriate. If you are short on time or are feeling stressed out, do not hesitate to assign someone to take care of a project on your plate. This way, you can pick and choose which individuals will work on specific projects to maximize productivity and efficiency. Hiring a remote assistant may be a good idea if you are looking for someone to pick up some slack — make sure you find someone who is eager, reliable, and available, and it may just be your best business decision yet.
3. Designate a Specific Place for Everything
The physical workspace is often a messy sight, because most small business owners and entrepreneurs are overworked. If your workspace is a mess, it will breed confusion, clutter, and a fractured understanding of what to prioritize. Invest a little bit of time (usually in the morning or at the end of the work day) to clean up your desk, make lists of clear, actionable items to tackle, and start with a fresh browser tab. Once your workspace is properly organized, things will clear up, you mind will calm, and productivity will increase.
4. A To-Do List Will Improve Time Management Challenges
Maintain a clear to-do list and it won't be nearly as challenging to plan your workday, meet deadlines and ensure nothing gets lost in the shuffle. It will be much easier to schedule your workday if you track your time across a week to determine how long specific tasks take and set reasonable expectations based on those findings. This way, you can budget a certain amount of time for specific projects and maximize your workplace efficiency while boosting company value. Those who spend time evaluating their tasks and making educated planning decisions typically limit advanced planning to appointments and meetings. Take the extra step of scheduling in time between meetings/appointments for specific projects to be worked on.
Everybody makes to-do lists differently, and there is no one right way to create one. Whether you prefer putting pen to paper, or using an online management system, it’s critical to remember to use the system that works best for you. Experiment with a few different options and you’re sure to find a system that helps give you a crystal clear focus on your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly objectives.
5. Use A Calendar
If you’re already familiar with the benefits of using a calendar to organize day to day tasks, meetings, and more, then you understand how life-changing of a system it can be. If you work with clients and have regular meetings, then the calendar is an essential tool, and having a good online calendar is critical. Setting up your future tasks can take some time, but the benefits pay off tremendously. Sharing a calendar with your team can make planning projects and scheduling meetings a breeze — it’s also a great way to see what your employees are working on, and vice versa. For startups and entrepreneurs with long work days, keeping an organized calendar is often the key to sanity. Pick the one that’s right for your company and you’ll absolutely love the results.
Set Yourself up for a Successful Tomorrow
Use your mind's eye to envision what your workday would have been like today if you had spent 10-15 minutes preparing for the day's challenges after wrapping up work last evening. The day would have likely been much easier and seamless. Devote this little bit of time at the end of each day to updating your task list and you will seamlessly transition into a truly organized beginning, every day of your professional career.
Marla DiCarlo is an accomplished business consultant with more than 28 years of professional accounting experience. As co-owner and CEO of Raincatcher, she helps business owners learn how to sell a business so they can get paid the maximum company value.